Chapter 20: Sometimes Trouble Finds You
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An army of Draugrs is standing outside my house, just looking towards here without a single movement. I don't know if they are aware of me, but things are not looking good either way. There are hundreds of them outside. An entire army, considering I am a single guy.

 

For the fucks sake. Things began rolling up quite fast and unpredictably. At first, it was only a strong creature inside a dungeon, then a goblin shaman, an entire town habited by goblins, and lastly, a giant wolf larger than an adult African elephant. Now an army of undead at my gates. I know I am the one throwing myself into trouble, but it isn’t all my fault. I must do it to find answers or escape.

 

Everything would be better if I didn’t have two more targets on my kill list. I can even settle for locations, let alone more explanation or power. Odds may not look good, but I must terminate them somehow. They are my only known way of escaping from this forest. I can always dive into this forest and try to find a way out, but is it worth taking the risk?

 

I encountered many deadly creatures, aside from goblins and skeletons. That massive vulture takes the top of the list. By risking my life and precisely planning the battle, I managed to kill that wolf, but that vulture, which is larger and seemingly more durable than the beast I almost died while killing, I don't know.

 

I saw the carnage it made in goblin town. Amounts that I can describe as small hordes got eaten as they were bite-size snacks on Halloween.

 

That bird is dangerous but a big and damned but not the only one. Poor old me can’t have a rest in here. There are many more monsters outside, some I encountered from afar, some I read about in the adventurer's handbook. All have one thing in common. They are deadly.

 

That vulture I saw has a name. Stonecracker. How it got this name? One of these beasts destroyed a stone fortress's roof and feasted upon the soldiers inside. So the survivors named it after the terrifying event they watched, at least according to the handbook. The head of that beast is said to be worth twenty-five gold coins. I don't know how much that makes, but I suppose a lot.

 

Then there are Great White Ursa, bears that are massive and very territorial, they have skins thick enough to stop any arrow thrown at them, and their claws are said to be sharp as a razorblade and durable as high-quality steel. I was lucky since I didn't encounter one, despite them living in this region, but they say bold hunters or adventurers hunt them in large groups to take their hide and claws, which are valuable for equipment making. Its head is worth two gold coins.

 

I even got information about the wolf I killed. Its head is worth fourteen gold coins. Each tooth in the mouth is worth ten silver, but fangs double. One paw with claws is worth forty silvers, and it goes on.

 

Beasts that look like a mix of alligator and angler fish, who hallucinates their prey with a chemical they release to lure them. Deers with antlers made out of steel. Giant beasts with shells durable enough to endure even small cannon shots. Dragons, giants, and trolls raid villages and eat all consumable food. The list goes on.

 

According to the book, I am probably somewhere where there aren't many beasts lurking. The reason for that is unknown to me, but I am happy. Ask no questions and hear no lies.

 

I got my hands full thanks to the whole Lich, Voice, gods, and all that weird shit I am suddenly thrown into after that day ended with my death. But I am not the one to whine about all of that. I will survive here, go back to things that sent me to this world, and give them a heartful poem crafted with the best curse words I know, so they can understand how I feel about them.

 

Let's put that aside, at least for now, and make a short recap before my visitors decide to move. It's been a week since I killed the last boss. Forest is changing once again. For good, for some, I suppose, because wolves are, how to say, acting more natural, not super aggressive, and different packs or kins are not working with each other. This jolly news means only a single monster faction is left, the undead.

 

Four goblins? I can take them down. A wolf or two? The difficulty changes according to size, but I can handle that too. 

 

Armored draugrs, sometimes in groups that see numbers close to ten? Now that's a bite I cannot chew. They are not coming here. They are flooding! I cannot even go out and repair my traps, not to say they are smart enough to disarm one when they see it, even though they use primitive methods like breaking it into pieces with their equipment.

 

That is not something about the problem with time. I am getting low on supplies. It snows here five days a week, so I have more than enough water if I want to, but firewood, meat to eat, or materials to repair what I have? Back to water, without wood to boil it, I cannot consume it.

 

Back to square one. No little supplies, in danger, has no proper clothing for the cold. I don't joke. That last strike from the wolf turned my clothes into useless rags. Except for the cloak I made from his fur, I have nothing to wear on my top. But I am not helpless as before. My body is not screaming in misery thanks to the shock. I have a place that somewhat resembles a shack. Heck, I even have a bed, cooking gear, and bath. No matter how primitive they are.

 

My body also developed in that time frame. I think I can achieve feats of strength I wouldn't be able to do, even in my prime times.

 

Two days ago, I fought against a stary Hobgoblin-eating corpse of a dead wolf. Usually, they are equal or just a bit over me in raw physical strength. I managed to take it down with ease. I cut his arms in a single swing of my greatsword. 

 

I am certainly getting more powerful, but the fact that those creatures also began having problems when it came to finding food is another thing. That hobgoblin was skinny compared to the ones I fought before, and so was the wolf.

 

Better take down the last two targets before things go any worse.

 

Grabbed me some water and dank it, then ate the meat I was cooking in a pan in haste, and finally, put some clean rags suitable to stop bleeding in my bag. I have a small hatchet and a mace hanging from my belt, and my greatsword is on my back.

 

I don't have a mirror, but only a fool will need one to see that I am not the man I was two months ago. I blended a bit with this world, except for some memorials I still hold. Nothing I use or wear is from the earth. You cannot stop the change. You can only struggle to get a bit more time until the inevitable happens.

 

And my inevitable was my change into this world, yet did I actually change that much? My uncle said this to my father when he retired, 'Once a soldier, always a soldier.' Don't I prove his words? I held a sword instead of a rifle, but my war didn't change. Fighting against an unknown enemy with one thing in mind, kill to survive.

 

But should life be this cruel? Should I only be the product of a never-ending conflict and torment of thousands? Here or on earth, isn't there a place I can find permanent peace without fighting?

 

A feeling of peace I wouldn't push away as I did before, one I can accept with my heart. I now understand my foolishness. No matter what my past was, I am the me of today.

 

It is the past that shaped me into what I am today, but isn't today will turn into yesterday when tomorrow comes? Every morning I get up from my bed and look at the sun in the sky. Don't I have a chance to change or take a step forward toward that target? Maybe it is with death or by starting a new life through conquering my missions. I will do it.

 

I opened the door and took a step outside. I will put a life of war aside on my first chance. "And today, I take my first step towards that goal. Only two more deaths and I will be free, hopefully."

 

There is some snow and fog today. I wouldn't have wished for a better day to fight.

 

The draugr army is still looking towards the shelter. All of them are motionless. They may have expected me to take the first move.

 

So, be it. I reached for my sword and drew it from my back. Then took several steps forward. "Anyone who wants to die again! Come to me! My sword is thirsty for battle." I shouted.

 

 A sole draugr holding a shield and sword from the crowd began approaching me. My years of experience tell me one thing. It will strike on the first chance, perhaps challenging me into a duel.

 

I pointed my sword at it. "Make my day."

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